Monday, February 9, 2009

Special teams analysis

Al Roberts had the Rams' special teams on an upward path last year, and I'd thought he was worth retaining as coach of that unit. But he wasn't rehired, and Rick Gosselin's annual special teams ratings show the Rams STs have/had a lot of work to do. The Rams did improve to 17th in the NFL under Roberts according to Gosselin's ratings, where I'm certain they ranked last previously. However, last year's special teams continued to rank last in kickoff coverage (surprisingly, since they allowed no TDs) and in average starting field position, which is a little unfair because the defense never stopped anybody and the offense didn't put together that many long drives, but also has to stem from special teams penalties and poor kickoff returns.

Gosselin also indicates the Rams had the worst FG percentage defense in the NFL.
Opponents made 96.8% of their FG attempts against the Rams last year. What the hell does that even mean, other than the Ram defense probably allowed a ton of short FG attempts? What is a team supposed to do on special teams to improve here, outbid the Browns for LeBron? But there's not much doubt that the Rams still have a lot of work to do, especially in every aspect of the kickoff game: returning, blocking and covering.

And yes, disgustingly, the Buffalo Bills under Bobby April, who was more useless here than Drew Bennett is now, had the league's best special teams in 2008, for the third time in five years. Screw you, April. Never has a supposed guru of something football-related been more useless than April was here for three years, and that includes Al Saunders last year.

New special teams coach Tom McMahon's challenge here clearly is to get those kickoff teams working in better order and in rapid fashion.

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